Caring Dads

“Rebuilding the relationship with their children”
 
Contact Caring Dads

Caring Dads is devoted to ensuring the safety and well-being of children by working with fathers who are alleged to have abused or neglected their children or exposed them to abuse of their mothers.

Caring Dads provides a 17-week parenting course for fathers who are in contact with their children or have the expectation of being in contact with them. It is a cognitive behaviour therapy programme for up to 16 fathers and is delivered by trained facilitators with a background in child development or offender management.

 “will wholeheartedly recommend it to parents who are not experienced. It will teach them how to live life. I would like these courses to be available all around the world. I will always be grateful for the help I have received from you. Thank you.”

 

The programme

This programme is designed to enable men to improve their fathering skills and take responsibility for their children’s welfare and safety.

It is primarily to develop the father’s relationship with the child and mother to reduce the impact on both. It is also to encourage child centred behaviour, reduce conflict in family life and enable men to become better fathers.

The programme uses intervention strategies adapted from motivational interviewing, psycho-educational, cognitive-behavioural and emotion-focused approaches.

Following domestic abuse and family breakdown fathers are often angry, feel victimised and deny, minimise or blame others for their situation. As a result they continue to cause difficulties for their children and their children’s mothers.

Aims:

  • To increase men’s awareness of child-centred fathering
  • Increase men’s awareness of, and responsibility for, abusive, and neglectful fathering behaviours and their impact on children.
  • To rebuild trust and enable the beginning of healing of the harm caused to their children.

Context:

  • In Hertfordshire in 2019/20 there were 20,906 reported cases of domestic abuse (up 5.4% from 19,829 in the previous year) of which there were 12,337 (2018/19 – 11,144) recorded offences, an increase of 10.7% on the previous year (1,193 cases).
  • At the end of May 2020 Domestic Abuse crimes were up by 8.1% on the same period last year, domestic non-crimes incidents up by 23.4%.  All in all the combination of crimes and non crimes is up 14% on last year.
  • At this time DA crimes equates to about 20% of all crime recorded in Herts. (Usually 12-15%)

Source: Herts Constabulary

In most cases of domestic abuse children will have been present either in the room or in the property when domestic abuse has taken place.  It is well established that witnessing the abuse of another, particularly a parent, is emotionally and developmentally damaging to children. 

Men who have been abusive in one intimate relationship often go on be abusive in other relationships.  Many such fathers have not had good enough parenting themselves so do not know how to be a positive role model and adopt a child-centred approach to parenting. Instead they are controlling and respond with anger and aggression to children’s needs and this pattern is repeated as they move from one abusive relationship to another. In turn, their children will not benefit from an appropriate role model, thereby continuing the cycle of abuse unless there is suitable intervention.

Our impact:

Caring Dads provides an intensive group experience that changes the person and the family relationships. The Caring Dads programme helps dads who intend to:
• change their attitudes and understanding and stop abusive behaviour;
• develop a positive relationship with their family; and
• provide a better role model for their children.

At the end of the course fathers commonly report that they now recognise the harm they have caused to their children, they feel better able to manage their feelings and feel better equipped to support their children in the future. They also report having an improved relationship with their children’s mother.

Joining Caring Dads – referrals:

The great majority of referrals to Caring Dads come from Children’s services, and we only accept fathers onto Caring Dads courses who are positively motivated. There is no charge to course participants who live in Hertfordshire or whose children live in Hertfordshire. The referral form attached to this page is for use by professionals or those fathers advised by Cafcass to attend, in which case a copy of the court S7 report will be required along with contact details for the CAFCASS officer. Please contact us if you are interested in attending a course, or to find out more.

New programme during Covid-19 restrictions:

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on families. Even more challenging is rebuilding previously broken relationships at a time of social distancing. In Winter 2020 Hacro launched a new service, Dedicated Dads, to help fathers improve their relationship with their children in person and remotely. This six-week, eight hour one-to-one programme helps fathers create a plan for change. The father has to commit to working on the plan. It is not suitable for relationships that include violence.

The programme is based on a detailed assessment making use of a validated questionnaire which will form the basis of the plan.  Where more complex needs are identified such as persistent alcohol abuse the plan will include referral to a third party. The plan will be worked on using methods based on:

Motivational Interviewing.

Cognitive behavioural therapy.

Mindful reflection.

Sessions can take place in person or on the telephone or via the internet. Each session will involve a review of the individual plan and setting of tasks for the next sessions. The plan will be updated by the worker at the end of each session and shared with the father. The final session will involve an assessment on progress made and key objectives for the father to follow in the future.

Just before Christmas HACRO received news that a recent participant was now in regular one to one contact each week with his children and has time booked with them alone over Christmas and the other holidays. He said: “after spending so much time over the last years feeling like there was no hope, I am excited and hopeful about life again”. He puts his success down to understanding how to manage himself, his life and his relationships and being open to understanding and accepting other people’s needs and views. HACRO played a major part in developing these skills, allowing him to rebuild family communication openly and safely.

Joining Dedicated Dads – referrals:

The Dedicated Dads course is suitable for a dad who has been referred to the Caring Dads programme but there is no course available with spare places or the geographical location of the full Caring Dads course is not practical for the dad to attend, or the weekly timing of the course (1 evening a week) is not practical for the dad to attend (eg he works evenings), or the wait time for the start of the next course is unacceptable.   

Referrals for a Caring Dads course can be made by a social worker or a Probation officer.  Self referrals to HACRO can be made following a recommendation from a Family Court case or from CAFCASS.  Neither the court nor CAFCASS will make a direct referral.  A self-referral will only be accepted once a ‘Section 7′  CASCASS report from the court case has been passed to the Caring Dads Office and the case has been reviewed by the Caring Dads Professional lead.’

It has been unbelievable, as you know I didn’t need to keep coming because my case was closed, but I kept coming because I learn so much by coming.

 

At the start of the programme, a lot of my parenting was well meant but reactive. I now think more carefully about impact. There isn’t enough out there for dads, to help them support their children.

 

This has been a chance to talk and work out how to support kids, which we should learn in school.

 

I think I have given and taken a lot over the 17 weeks. I expected to be pulled apart. It’s been the opposite to that. You’ve done well. Not many of us can talk about feelings.